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I have always wanted to become a jet fighter pilot. I have needed
glasses for a long time and have always been discouraged from
becoming one. I have recently come to the realization that you can
do anything you set your mind to and have looked into becoming a
commercial airline pilot but am worried about job security. I am a
police officer now working with the state and have very good job
security as long as I don't shot anyone or something stupid like
that. I've heard that pilot hiring is going up, but what happens
when all the military pilots start coming back? I also would like to
know a realistic income figure of what could be expected from the
first yeary on up. Sorry for the length of the question.
-- joshua robinson, August 10, 2005
I wouldn't worry about "all the military pilots". The military has been shrinking since Vietnam and the commercial aviation world has been growing since the 1920s. The percentage of ex-military pilots in the commercial flying world has been steady and/or shrinking.
Job security is also pretty reasonable as long as you're willing to switch companies and cities. There are jobs for experienced pilots just not necessarily high-paying ones or jobs in a particular city. The actual market-clearing wage for a good copilot is about $20,000 per year and maybe $35,000 per year for the captain. That's what it takes to get someone competent, safe, and approved by the FAA (and these are the salaries paid by regional airlines for first-year holders of the respective jobs). Thanks to amazing union contracts some captains at big airlines have been making more than $200,000/year. Given the tendency of those big airlines to go bankrupt it would probably be unreasonable to go into the commercial flying world with the expectation of earning more than $20,000 per year to start and $35,000 per year after 5-10 years.
-- Philip Greenspun, August 10, 2005